Sunday, August 26, 2012

I Want to Go to There: Cannery Row

Inspired by Design*Sponge's wonderful Living In posts, I decided to start the I Want to Go to There series, featuring books that I've recently read. Is there any better way to completely transport yourself to another world, time or life than diving into a great book? 

While other kids were going to camp or playing with others and developing valuable social skills, I was holed up in my room or at the library lost in a book. Sure, I still may never actually master the art of small talk (ugh) but if I ever do, at least I won't feel insecure about my vocabulary.

First up, is Cannery Row by John Steinbeck:

I picked up my copy on the last day of my California trip, a few days after visiting Monterey and its titular Row. Of course the modern Row barely resembles the grimy, seedy, fishy, insular community of riff raff that Steinbeck writes so lovingly about, but if you look hard enough past the gift shops and restaurants, it's easy to imagine drinking from the jug with Mack and the boys or collecting starfishes with Doc.
1. Vintage wine jug  |  2. Frog specimen  |  3. Diving helmet ice bucket  |  4. Sardine labels
5. Phonograph  |  6. Chinese firecrackers  |  7. Starfish
If living amongst sardine canneries isn't really your thing, maybe you could throw a Cannery-Row-inspired party, instead? Invite hundreds of your closest prostitutes, biologists, bartenders and chinese grocers — but you may want to hide your valuables, especially your specimen jars and favorite phonograph records. If you find a grocer that will trade for frogs, let me know.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bookshelf Reorganization

As I was dusting this weekend I decided to give our bookshelf a bit of an update. Although working for four years at a movie store made me a tad anal about alphabetizing, I decided to go rogue and organize my book collection by color. Turns out my collection of bargain novels assembled from Borders, thrift stores and garage sales isn't nearly as colorful as it is fun to read, so the effect is more subtle than I had anticipated.

I'm still happy with the change, and it gave me a chance to rearrange the other bookends and bookcase staples such as my mannequin feet collection, glass head, my man's mini Hamlet collection, Van Gogh bust, creepy doll head, oven timer, gargoyle and orange bomb. My favorite pieces, however are reserved for the top of the shelf — particularly our fantastic Mr. Fox and Alaskan Squirrel w/nut.

Half of the people that we have over love our critters, and the other half (i.e. my family) is continually creeped out. I love taxidermy (good-condition taxidermy, if it's damaged then it's just gross) and have dreams of owning an entire menagerie one day. If anyone has a lead on a quality badger for sale, I know a girl.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sleeping Left

[ It's Complicated  |  Hope Springs ]
I mean, I can't be the only one who noticed this, right? But what does it all mean?

By the way, if you haven't seen either of these movies, go do so right this second. And then see them again, because I saw It's Complicated five times in the theater, and Hope Springs has been open a little more than a week and I'm on my third showing.

I like a great, middle-aged, sex comedy as much as Meryl likes the left side of the bed.

Sass & Peril

[ Fox  |  Raccoon ]
Foxes seem to be everywhere these days, but I'm totally ok with that because I can't really get enough of them — and unlike birds, they are every bit as cute in real life as they are on Etsy.

True story: about a year ago we just barely passed on buying a baby fox at a flea market (yes, this is the life I live). Thankfully we were able to halt our "ERMAGERD WE NERD A BERBER FERX" urges just long enough to find out that as pets they require a bit (aka, a lot) more commitment than a cat or dog. That, and apparently their urine is like, the worst, strongest, smelling awfullness you can possibly imagine.

ANYway, Martha Stewart pinned this adorable fox screen print this morning (yes, in my head it's actually Martha sitting at a computer eating pop-tarts and pinning things all day — celebrities, they're just like us! I mean me!) and I immediately followed it to its source — a shop called Sass & Peril — where I found even more adorable things.

[ Buy this! For me! ]
Like this pirate kitty tote that I kind of need right now because it's a gray cat with an eye patch and HEY I have a grey cat that would never in a million years sit still enough to wear an eye patch AND I happen to always be in the market for a good, cute tote.

And although I liked the fox print BEFORE reading the words "As Seen on Parenthood", that glowing endorsement certainly doesn't make me need it any less. And just think of all the grapes I can fit in that tote!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

New York City or BUS(t)

On Monday, I leave for my third of four New York City trips this year. I went for the Cherry Blossoms in Spring, for Meryl Streep last week and the man and I will be going back in November for the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

This trip will differ from the others in a few ways:
  • It's a AAA-sponsored bus tour.
  • We will leave at 6:30 am and arrive in NYC at 6:30 pm. Incase your math isn't good, that's TWELVE hours on a bus. Did I mention that it's only a 7/8 hr drive?
  • I will be accompanying my grandmother and mother, who haven't been to the city since 1950 and 2002, respectively.
We are staying in the heart of Times Square (coincidentally two blocks away from where I stayed the last two times, with my friend Trent) and basically have the most touristy itinerary I've ever seen, let alone participated in. I've been to the city more than twenty times, so I've already hit the major attractions (some multiple times, I'm looking at you Empire State Building), but I'm actually looking forward to embracing the major cheese factor in it all.

A sampling of our scheduled stops:
  • St. Patrick's Cathedral
  • Top of the Rock
  • Empire State Building
  • Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island
  • Bus tour of Harlem and Central Park
  • 9/11 Memorial
  • Nice Work if You Can Get it, starring Matthew Broderick on Broadway
  • Tour of NBC studios with a stop outside to watch the Today Show
The only thing on that list that I haven't done is the 9/11 Memorial, and while I've seen shows on Broadway I've never seen one with Broderick and I'm sure he'll be great. My mom and I have decided that we're going to go full-on tourist: foam crowns at the Statue of Liberty, I Heart NY shirts, cameras strung around our necks — there was even talk of matching fanny packs.

I'm interested to see how the city is presented to "outsiders" — I've been walking the streets and subscribing to New York Magazine for so long that I don't exactly consider myself a tourist anymore (I even got asked for directions last time I was there, which will never cease to thrill me). It will also be nice to take a "just girls" trip with my grandma and mom — something I'm embarrassed to say we've never done.

While I prepare my luggage and reassure my grandma for the hundredth time that I won't be late for the 6:30 am departure, I leave you with my favorite snippets from the itinerary:
  • "New York City averages three degrees warmer than Akron, so I would expect warm temperatures."
  • "I also recommend that men not take wallets that appear bulky and women not carry a large purse in New York City... it is precisely this great location that draws many visitors and other local residents. Hence, I would expect a considerable number of people out on the sidewalks touring and it would be prudent not to carry bulky wallets and large purses that might attract a pick pocket."
  • "The dress code for this evening Broadway show is business casual. From past Broadway experiences, I expect to see only a few men wearing ties and sport jackets, and only a few women will be wearing formal dresses. Women will typically be wearing blouses with pants or skirts — only a few wear pants suits."
I feel that it is important to note that in the more than 10 years since I started regularly visiting the city, I have never once been "pick pocketed" or "stabbed". Plus the guy that was stabbing people in Times Square just got killed by the police, so we should be fiiiiiine.

Coupon code!

To celebrate the remaining few weeks of my 26th year, you can save 26% off your Blue Carrot Shop order with the code "BIRTHDAY".  This discount ends on August 31st, the day I turn 27 (your eggs don't start dying until 28 right? RIGHT?).

So hop on over to the shop, and pick out a plaid blanket for impending chilly nights, a brass lion for your desk or a vintage camera for your office shelf. Everything is cuter/more necessary when it's on sale, right?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Thinking Left.

 "We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep — it's as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out of windows or drown themselves or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us, the vast majority, are slowly devoured by some disease or, if we're very fortunate, by time itself.  

There's just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we've ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) knows these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more." 

— Michael Cunningham, The Hours
Last week, I had three days practically bursting with these types of hours. My friend Trent and I spent Sunday, Monday and most of Tuesday in New York, basically following (in a non-creepy way, we swear) Meryl Streep around the city as she promoted her new movie, Hope Springs.

Sunday we arrived at the Apple Store in Soho a few hours (it may or may not have been almost four) early to secure seats for the Meet the Filmmakers event, and ended up in the — very respectable — third row. The cushy chairs and air conditioned Apple Store almost made me forget what it was like to wait for hours outside in the 90+ degree heat (Letterman) or on a hard, Central Park walkway (Mother Courage) — it almost seemed too easy.

By the time Meryl (and the others) took the stage, the store was filled to capacity. I tried not to get too caught up in taking photos, but I managed to capture a few quintessential Streep looks including evidence of my favorite observation of the day, made by Trent: "She thinks left."

After letting Travers have a go, they allowed the audience to ask their own questions, which predictably produced a few insightful queries along with the more standard, painfully embarrassing fan moments. I usually cringe just at the thought of an open q&a, so I didn't even consider trying to participate.

As a general rule, I'd rather Meryl (or anyone, for that matter) never know who I am than be forever known as the girl who asked the horrible/embarrassing/degrading question. Even if I'd actually had a question for her, I still would have had to, you know, actually ask a question (i.e. speak) in front of hundreds of people (not to mention, MERYL STREEP) — not high on my list of leisure activities.

The talk was short, but other notable moments included watching Meryl watch Meryl (they showed a clip of Hope Springs), hearing her cooking accident story for the first time (she would retell it the next day, and in many interviews afterwards) and realizing that Steve Carell is actually a secretly handsome man — sadly, something is lost in pictures and film but believe me when I tell you that in person, dude is a fox.

The next day we took a cab (in an effort to arrive impossibly fresh) to the Soho offices of Bravo's Watch What Happens Live, where we had the absolute best seats available (occupying the very best seats was Streep's agent and a friend). Everything that happened after she arrived in the studio seems like a dream, made even more surreal when I watch the whole interview (again.. and again...).

It's been my experience that things always look larger on tv than in real life, so believe me when I tell you that the WWHL studio is tiny. Teeny tiny. We spent more than an hour literally five feet from Divinity, and she was wonderfully funny, humble and just the right amount of confused by it all. I never thought I'd witness Meryl Streep asking questions such as "What is a jackhole?" "What does DILF mean?" or playing a television-friendly version of "Marry, Fuck, Kill".

At one point during the taping, Streep and I most definitely shared a moment of eye contact followed by a smile — and I tried my best not to just, die. We made it out of the studio (having only partially sweated through our clothing) in time to watch her exit the building into a waiting car. We made an on-the-spot decision not to approach her, even though we were literally the only ones on either side of the street, because there's something about Meryl Streep that just commands respect. Besides, we're not exactly the yelling, mauling type of fans (you know who you are) and have no interest in accosting a fellow human being for an autograph or photo, no matter how much we may covet those types of mementos.

We were just about to start walking away, when Trent, in a self-proclaimed moment of awkwardness, waved. And, from inside the darkly-tinted car, we saw a bandaged hand raise.


Not to be left behind, I waved.


I think in some strange way, she was thanking us for respecting her privacy and not mauling her as she walked out. Or, as my man pointed out, maybe there was just a bee in the car. Either way, Meryl Streep waved at each of us individually and I proved that I could withstand mild celebrity interaction without having a heart attack.

And a few days after I got back, Trent found this photo from the Apple Store event on the Meryl Streep Forum, so we did get our picture with her after all.

Happy Birthday Julia Child!

Today would have been the 100th birthday of the amazing Julia Child — and it should be no surprise that my interest in Child came as a wonderful side effect to my Streep obsession, via the (half great) movie, Julie & Julia.

I subsequently read My Life in France, As Always, Julia and received Mastering the Art of French Cooking (along with my very first Le Creuset!) for Christmas that year. I still couldn't be further from actually mastering anything to do with the art of cooking, but I've successfully made boeuf bourguignon more times than I've successfully spelled it, and the onion soup is regularly requested by my man.

I've yet to see Julia's kitchen — reassembled from her home in Cambridge, MA and on display at the National Museum of American History — but I've always admired and not-so-secretly coveted a pegboard wall of beautiful copper pots (complete with outlines) and the blue/green color palette.

I've always found comfort in the fact that she didn't marry until she was 34, moved to France at 36 published French Cooking at 49 and became a television star at 50. I'm turning 27 this month, and sometimes it feels as if time is rapidly running out for me. Looking at what Julia accomplished after middle age, makes me feel better about being a master of nothing yet — and almost makes me want to break out the Le Creuset.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Six Years of Streep

Six years and 3 months ago, I began my summer of Streep. On June 22nd, 2006, Meryl was mere inches from me as she entered, and exited the Letterman studio. I was honored to see her on her birthday, angered by the mob of people screaming rudely for her autograph, and really, really hot.

On June 22nd of this year, I spent the day 3,000 miles away from New York but still found a way to celebrate the day — this time not with the actual Streep, but with her star on the Walk of Fame and her hand and footprints in the forecourt of the Chinese Theater.

I put my hands in her prints (a perfect match — we apparently both have carnie (small) hands) and attempted to squeeze my Sasquatch foot into her teeny tiny perfect print. I traced her signature with my finger and noted that as far as "penmanship" goes, it was as classy and beautiful as its creator.

Six years ago, on August 4th and 5th, 2006, my uncle Steve and I awoke at 4:30 am, walked to the 81st street entrance of Central Park and set up camp (camp = a picnic table tablecloth) outside the Delacorte Theater and waited patiently until the 1pm ticket giveaway.

Meryl was performing in Mother Courage that summer, and we had made the trip specifically intending to secure the much-sought-after tickets. Not only did we secure tickets for both nights, but we were sixth, and fifth in line, respectively.

On August 5th of this year, my friend Trent and I are headed to New York to see Meryl once again. He managed to snag a place (plus one!) in the tiny audience of Bravo's Watch What Happens Live, when none other than the Goddess herself will be a guest (filming Aug. 6th, to air on the 9th). She will be promoting her new movie, Hope Springs, and I will be doing my best to not, well, die.

I also discovered today that Meryl, along with Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carrell and Director David Frankel, will be speaking about Hope Springs at the Apple store in Soho on August 5th, at 4pm. We get into the city at 7am, and we're basically going to drop off our luggage and spend the rest of the day camped outside of the store.

It's sort of strange how much 2012 is starting to mirror 2006, in terms of Streep-content, and I couldn't feel more lucky or excited. I'm also incredibly grateful that I have such wonderful friends and family to share my adventures with — look no further than my Uncle spending countless hours outside of Greta Garbo's NY apartment when she was alive, dying to catch a glimpse of the reclusive star, to see where I get my knack for obsession.

Also, if anyone has any advice for me on the following issues, it would be much appreciated:
  • How not to sweat through my entire outfit.
  • How not to throw up on an Oscar-winning legend.
  • How to speak coherently and not creep out said legend.
  • What should I wear???
  • How not to look like a troll next to her if/when a photo opportunity presents itself.
When I saw her six years ago, I actually still had a film camera that I then took immediately to a one-hour (i.e. longest hour of my life) photo place to develop. I'm bringing at least two cameras this time (my phone + an actual camera), so hopefully I'll be able to properly document the events.

That is, if I don't die of anticipation first.